Council ‘much better placed’ for winter chill

Highways Agency manager Sujad Hussein in the grit store at their Birdwell Depot as they prepare for winter weather
Highways Agency manager Sujad Hussein in the grit store at their Birdwell Depot as they prepare for winter weather
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A MOUNTAIN of grit has been stockpiled by highways chiefs gearing up for winter weather on South Yorkshire’s motorways and trunk roads.

Gritting crews at the Highways Agency’s Birdwell depot, near Barnsley, are making sure they are well-prepared for ice and snow - with more than 2,000 tonnes of salt available.

Crews from the site treat roads including the M1, M18, A616 Stocksbridge Bypass and A628 Woodhead Pass.

And Sheffield Council today said it is also well-prepared for prolonged freezing weather which has hit the area for the last two winters.

The authority has 23,000 tonnes of salt in stock - as much as was used last year, which was the worst winter for 30 years.

There is also 500,000 tonnes of reserve stock being held by the Government to help councils if salt supplies run low.

A Sheffield Council spokeswoman said: “Sheffield is much better placed than in previous years. We’ve kept the promise to put out an additional 50 grit bins this year but it’s unlikely that we will be able to do this in future because of the overall financial position.

“We’ve kept the promise to keep on with the Snow Warden scheme but have not trained any more this winter again because of the financial position.

“Many cities don’t have any Snow Wardens and Sheffield has many more grit bins than comparable cities.

“We treat 59 per cent of Sheffield’s roads on the city’s precautionary salting network which is also much better than comparable cities.”

A spokeswoman for the Highways Agency said: “Birdwell is one of the busiest Agency depots in the region with responsibility for motorways - and exposed moorland routes.

“The A628 Woodhead Pass which had to be gritted more than 200 times during the worst of last winter’s severe weather. The depot is now fully stocked with more than 2,000 tonnes of salt and its gritting lorries are lined up and ready to go.”

The agency is reminding drivers to make extra care to ensure their vehicles are in good condition, to lessen the chances of them breaking down in the cold, helping to keep roads clear.

Motorists are also reminded that when very cold weather hits they should take precautions including equipping vehicles with blankets or even a shovel.

Gritting in numbers:

n 23,000 - tonnes of salt Sheffield has in stock

n 2,000 - tonnes of salt the Highways Agency’s Birdwell depot has

n 50 - number of extra grit bins in Sheffield

n 200 - the number of times the Woodhead Pass was gritted in last winter’s severest weather